Thursday, January 27, 2011

Love and Heroes

Yesterday I talked about what makes a hero someone both the reader and writer loves. There were some great comments, and one of the frequent ones was that he had to love the heroine.

When writing a romance, there are some reader expectations that have to be met. When we write a romance, we're promising the reader that we're going to address them. One of the "requirements" is to show that moment when the hero realizes he's in love with the heroine (and vice-versa, of course). There are others, but this is a blog post, not a workshop.

I seem to have a theme for my heroes that they're all career consumed, and their careers don't lend themselves to family lives. With the exception of Blake Windsor in What's in a Name?, they're all either cops or covert ops specialists, and don't think their jobs can mix with relationships.

My preference is for that moment to sneak up on the hero. None of mine have been actively seeking a life partner. And, like with all writing, you can't just dump these things on the reader. They need foreshadowing and setups.

And of course, taken out of context, these 'aha' moments aren't as meaningful, but I thought I'd share a few examples from my own work (no issues with copyright that way).

So, here they are:

In Finding Sarah, Randy had trouble accepting he was in love with Sarah until her neighbor pointed it out:

“But it’s tough when you love someone, isn’t it?” [Maggie said]

Randy barely caught the teacup before it splashed to the floor.

Maggie gave him a gentle smile. “Don’t tell me you didn’t know you’re in love with her.”

Randy put the teacup on the coffee table and rubbed his hands across his face. “I think I knew it the moment I walked into her shop. But I’ve never admitted it. Not so simply.”

In Nowhere to Hide, Graham and Colleen are eating soup.

[Graham] took the bowls to the kitchen and ladled in another generous portion for both of them. What had possessed him to bring her back here? He never let women spend the night. He dripped hot soup onto his hand and swore under his breath as the realization hit him. He had to remind himself to breathe.

You just experienced the difference between having sex and making love.

He felt a little weak in the knees as he set the bowls on the table and sat down.

"You're staring at me," she said.

"Guilty as charged. I want to memorize you sitting at my table, eating my chicken soup."
Her laugh made his heart skip. Damn it, everything she did made his heart skip. He was in way over his head. But it might be nice learning to navigate these new waters.

From What's in a Name?

[Graham] pulled a black t-shirt over his head. Holy crap, he was falling in love with her. And suddenly his knees felt like mashed potatoes and he had to lean against the wardrobe to catch his breath. Scratch falling. The fall was over. He'd hit ground zero like a sack of potatoes. Somewhere between being drugged, hit on the head, sliced with a knife, and pretending to be someone he'd never heard of, he'd dropped his defenses and Kelli had sneaked through. Worked her way inside through some unseen crack in the shell he kept between himself and his emotions—the shell that made him so effective in the boardroom.

As for being able to read people—Kelli was a chameleon. He never knew exactly what was her and what was the skin she put on for the rest of the world. Leave it to him to fall in love with the one person on the planet who could keep her thoughts and emotions from him.

From When Danger Calls – Ryan, Frankie and her 5-year-old daughter, Molly, are at a highway rest stop.

He ambled to the bank of vending machines and selected a cup of coffee, hoping it might distract him from the thoughts of Frankie that kept a stupid grin on his face. No such luck. Still smiling, he wandered back to Frankie’s car. Leaning against the front fender, he watched the path from the restroom building. When a cluster of women headed toward the parking lot, it was as if all of them vanished except Frankie.

Molly tugged her arm, and he watched as mother and daughter exchanged some words, followed by a quick hug. Molly skipped down the sidewalk, an exuberant grin on her face. Warmth swelled in his chest, his eyes tingled and a lump filled his throat.

Damn it all to hell, he’d fallen in love with Frankie.

And in my upcoming Where Danger Hides:

Damn it, he couldn’t fall in love in the middle of an op, for God’s sake. Ryan was nuts, that was all. Emotions always went into overdrive when the adrenaline kicked in. He tried to convince himself the rush he felt was no different than any other op. That a quick rendezvous with Debbie would get him back on an even keel. But all he saw was Miri. Damn Ryan for messing with his head. And double damn the man for being right. He, Ambrose G. Dalton, the lock-up-your-heart king, was ass-over-teakettle in love. “Fuck.”

So, what "I'm in love" moments stuck with you in your reading (or writing)?

Image from


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I like your approach to the heroes' moment of realization. And I like your modern approach to conflict--it *would* be realistic that the hero's work pushes him apart from his romantic interest. Conflict from modern life.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. I guess maybe that's why I have trouble with some historicals - it's hard to remember how different things were then, and those that write 'modern' but set in times past don't ring true.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love those moments when a character "wakes up." Your example scenes are really good.

Terry Odell said...

Patricia - thanks. Aha moments are always fun to write.

Kim Bowman Author said...

Great examples, Terry. I love writing that aha moment as well. In my upcoming release WAYWARD SOUL, the actions of the heroine result in my hero not remembering her. The aha moment for him ends up being one of my favorite parts in the book!

Megan Johns said...

These examples are really good, Terry

Terry Odell said...

Kim - isn't it wonderful when those moments happen as we write!

Megan - Thanks. (Feel free to buy the books to read the whole thing!)